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there are a large number of convictions before
the resident magistrates' courts, of which
one-half are for drunkenness, and of the
remaining half, nearly a third are for infractions
of the Cattle Trespass Ordinance. Our
Blue-book of accounts from the antipodes,
therefore, permits us to face Christmas, as a
nation, with a comfortable knowledge that
the housekeeping accounts here also leave a
considerable balance in our favour.

We now turn to the Melbourne Directory;
not yet so thick a volume as the London
Directory, but who shall say to what thickness
in after years it may expand? Melbourne
has now a public library, as fully attended as
the reading-room of the British Museum, and
a well-edited Directory, preceded by an
almanack, in which we find such anniversaries
recorded as, " May 15, Melbourne founded,
1837." "June 25. Geelong and Melbourne
Railway opened, 1857." And in the same
year " August 10. The streets of Melbourne lit
with gas." Next, we look to the Report of the
Colonial Registrar-General, printed at
Melbourne, which compiles from official records
the chief details relating to the Progress and
Statistics of Victoria, from the year eighteen
hundred and fifty-one to the year eighteen
hundred and fifty-eight; that is to say, a
report of the whole life of Victoria, since the
time when it ceased to be a dependency of
New South Wales. Within that period, the
population has increased in thousands, from
seventy-seven to four hundred and ten. The
population of the city of Melbourne itself, in
six years, increased four-fold. In the three
years from eighteen hundred and fifty-one to
eighteen hundred and fifty-four, the whole
population trebled, and the increase has been
six-fold during the last seven years. Where
there were two towns seven years ago, now
there are twenty-one. One hundred and ninety-six
miles of new street have been formed, and
the expenditure on streets has been about
two millions. During the last three or four
years the progress of agriculture has been
even more rapid than that of population.
From the year eighteen hundred and fifty-four
to eighteen hundred and fifty-seven,
population increased only by seventy-three
per cent., but the increase in the average
of cultivated land was not less than four
hundred per cent. Two lines of railway are
completed, a third is nearly complete, for a
fourth Government has accepted a tender,
and a fifth is planned. Seven hundred miles
of electric telegraph wire have been already
laid. A gigantic system of works for water
supply has been established at the cost of
three-quarters of a million. Trade, also, has grown
even more rapidly than population. Exports
to Great Britain and Ireland have in the
seven years increased elevenfold. Victoria is
now to England, among all the markets of
the world, fourth in importance. Let us
only add that deposits in the savings-banks
have increased tenfold, that an university and
a public library have been established, and
that the increase of schools has fairly kept
pace with the increase of the population.

IRRITABLE PLANTS.

THE name of irritability is given by
botanists to the movements made by certain
plants when touched. These movements are
influenced chiefly by light and heat; but, like
many phenomena occurring in organised
beings, they cannot at present be explained
by merely chemical or mechanical laws;
although such plants maybe excited by stimulants
of a chemical or mechanical nature.

The most remarkable example of the
irritability of vegetables occurs in a foreign
species of saintfoin, called the moving plant
(Hedysarum gyrans). It grows on the banks
of the Ganges. It is an annual plant, rising
up three or four feet: the leaves are of
a bright green colour, and the butterfly
flowers are generally in clusters of a pale
red. The leaves, which consist of a large
terminal leaflet, and two smaller lateral ones,
possess the singular property of moving without
being touched. Sometimes one of them
will move suddenly while the rest remain
still; at another time they all move together
up and down, and circularly: this last movement
being performed by the twisting of the
footstalks. And even when the leaves are
detached from the plant, they sometimes
retain their power of motion for four-and-twenty
hours. If any obstacle happens to
retard the motion, upon its removal the
leaves move with greater velocity. These
movements are most evident when the sun's
rays are striking upon the plant; thus making
it appear that the action of the sun's rays is the
cause of the perpetual motion of the leaflets.

In India, where the plant is in full vigour,
and has every advantage which its native
soil and air can give it, all the leaves are in
motion at the same time. And the Indians,
who observe these motions with a sort of
superstitious reverence, and are ever ready
to place confidence in the subject of their
admirationgather, on a certain day, two of
the lateral leaves of this plant, while they
are in the act of approaching each other.
These leaves the Indians pound with the
tongue of a species of screech owl, and firmly
believe that this preparation will prevent;
their being crossed in love.

Venus's fly-trap (Dion├Ža muscipula)
another of the greatest wonders of the vegetable
kingdom, is an American plant, which was
brought to Europe from Carolina about the
year seventeen hundred and eighty-eight.
It is a pretty plant, bearing several elegant
white flowers at the end of a simple stalk.
All its leaves grow immediately from the
bottom of the stem; each terminating by two
lobes surrounded at their edges with prickles.
These lobes when undisturbed lie open like
the leaves of a book, and their surfaces are